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Red Dead Redemption 2 Almost Looked Completely Different

Red Dead Redemption 2 is basically Grand Theft Auto: Wild West Edition. You can wander sprawling vistas, steal any mode of transportation that isn't nailed to the ground, and be a one-man crime spree. And, like GTA, RDR2 underwent numerous facelifts before it was ready.

Throughout development, the RDR2 team at Rockstar went through the game with a fine-tooth comb — a rare luxury in the Wild West. The devs iterated and improved the game over and over again, adding features and deleting characters. Some remnants of old versions have stuck around, and dedicated video game archaeologists have unearthed these past renditions and put them on display. 

The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 used to be a very different place, and it's high time y'all moseyed on down this gaming history trail.

Arthur was originally much scarier in Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2's protagonist, Arthur Morgan, is a fascinating character study. He is a ruthless, cold outlaw kept in check by a moral compass. However, you wouldn't know that just by looking at him, as his face is caught halfway between Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris. But, Arthur's face originally matched his personality.

During the RDR2 beta, Arthur's face was reportedly downright terrifying. He was older and scarred, and his glares could kill a rattlesnake. Arthur's original face was much more antagonistic than the retail version; however, this face lift wasn't his biggest change.

Anyone who has played RDR2 probably knows Arthur once had a son, Isaac, who was murdered during a robbery. Though terrible, Isaac's original death was far more devastating. Early in development, the dev team wanted RDR2 to start with Arthur escaping with a newborn Isaac, only to have Isaac freeze to death. But, apparently digital hypothermia-induced infanticide was a bridge too far.

You nearly got to meet a cave man in Red Dead Redemption 2

RDR2 is already a huge, sprawling game full of colorful and conniving characters. But, the game was once even bigger, as the game's files mention people who never made the curtain call.

A prime example of an unused character is Featherstone Chambers. Turns out he was going to be a bona fide NPC until the devs decided to scrap him and give his name to Dutch van der Linde as a pseudonym. Gamers can also find a small graveyard's worth of abandoned characters who didn't find a second life as nicknames buried in the game's code. These include a Sheriff Owens, the long lost member of the Gray family Adam Gray, one Doc Wormwood, and the absent — and unnamed — wife of Hector Fellowes.

However, RDR2's most fascinating unused character may be the lonely Giant. He already serves as an in-game Easter egg, and has quite a few scripted voice lines. But, players have discovered an unused model for a very neanderthal-like character. Is the model supposed to represent the giant? Was he supposed to serve as a follow-up to the Sasquatch encounter from Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare? Only the devs at Rockstar know for sure.

Red Dead Redemption 2's map underwent numerous revisions

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to Red Dead Redemption, so the game's map should have been a cakewalk. The lion's share of design work had already been completed in RDR. The developers could have just copied the first game's map, made a few tweaks here and there to account for the time difference, and bam — new map done. Oh, if only.

Supposedly, the beta RDR2 map barely resembles the retail version. New Austin was nowhere to be seen, Cumberland Forest was bigger, and Van Horn was called Annesburg and vice versa. The homestead of Willard's Rest was initially called Rocky Seven, and that's just the tip of the map iceberg.

The developers planned to include far more explorable interior locations, such as the Bank of Armadillo, Mayor Nicholas Timmins' house, and Gaptooth Breach mine. Development on these locations went smoothly, but the team stopped working on them and then left them in the game, completely inaccessible by normal means.

The developers cut and changed so many locations in RDR2, they could make a sizable game map out of all the places that were altered or originally designed but later removed.

Scrapped Red Dead Redemption 2 audio unveils numerous cut features

In Red Dead Redemption 2, you can hunt animals, wrangle outlaws, and perform almost every Wild West passtime under the sun. However, the game used to feature even more systems, mechanics, and options that didn't make it to retail — possibly because the developers had to cut out stuff somewhere.

In the original Red Dead Redemption, players could accrue Fame and acquire special perks. That feature almost returned in RDR2, as the game's code allegedly hides dialogue samples where NPCs talk about Arthur. Why the feature was cut is anyone's guess.

However, Fame is far from RDR2's only cut feature. More hidden, unused audio recordings reveal that players could have teamed up with their crew during non-story gameplay, as well as saying something other than "No" to the local working girls. Again, the mystery behind these cut features will likely remain, well, a mystery.